Essential Muir: A Selection of John Muir’s Best Writings
Why Essential John Muir and Mt. Tallac
John Muir is an icon of California and the National Parks. I first read his books when I was in the sixth grade because my teacher loved his writing and recommended him to me. I wasn’t a hiker then and can’t really remember what he wrote, but he had an impact on me to this day. I’m looking forward to reading this collection to get reacquainted with his writing. Yosemite, in particular, was one of the places John Muir spent the most time and Half-Dome in Yosemite is the hike that got me started on this amazing hiking journey.
More About Essential John Muir
An introduction to the great ”poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist” Preservationist. Inventor. Lobbyist. John Muir was many things at once, and he is California’s best-known icon–so much so that his image was chosen to appear on the new state quarter. But the best way to know the man who founded the Sierra Club and helped create Yosemite National Park is to read his own words.
Essential Muir is the second volume in the California Legacy Essentials Collection. Taking the best of John Muir’s writings on nature–in which he waxes ecstatic even as he accurately describes the scientific attributes of a flower–as well as his thoughts on religion and society, this book presents a fresh look at one of California’s greatest literary figures. His love for nature was so powerful–and his description of it so compelling–it still inspires us a century later.
John Muir (April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914) also known as “John of the Mountains”, was a Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada of California, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he founded, is a prominent American conservation organization. The 211-mile (340 km) John Muir Trail, a hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada, was named in his honor. Other such places include Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College, Mount Muir, Camp Muir and Muir Glacier. In Scotland, the John Muir Way, a 130-mile-long route, was named in honor of him.
In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing Yosemite National Park. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. He is today referred to as the “Father of the National Parks” and the National Park Service has produced a short documentary about his life.
Muir has been considered “an inspiration to both Scots and Americans”. Muir’s biographer, Steven J. Holmes, believes that Muir has become “one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity,” both political and recreational. As a result, his writings are commonly discussed in books and journals, and he is often quoted by nature photographers such as Ansel Adams. “Muir has profoundly shaped the very categories through which Americans understand and envision their relationships with the natural world,” writes Holmes. Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and religious prophet, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for countless individuals, making his name “almost ubiquitous” in the modern environmental consciousness. According to author William Anderson, Muir exemplified “the archetype of our oneness with the earth”, while biographer Donald Worster says he believed his mission was “…saving the American soul from total surrender to materialism.” On April 21, 2013, the first ever John Muir Day was celebrated in Scotland, which marked the 175th anniversary of his birth, paying homage to the conservationist.